Posted on : Monday October 10, 2011

Bob Simpson, BCM/D Associate Executive Director and Editor of BaptistLIFE

Bob Simpson, BCM/D Associate Executive Director and Editor of BaptistLIFE

The times they are a changin’!” If you don’t believe it just consider how much America has changed in just the past eighteen years. I mention this because that’s a measure of how long the current Freshman college class of 2015 has been alive.

Each year Beloit College, in Beloit,Wis., releases their “Mindset List” which gives us glimpses of insight into the cultural touchstones that are shaping the lives of the college class of 2015 who began their undergraduate journey last month. According to Beloit University their lives are different than compared to any other Freshman class.

This year’s entering college class of 2015 was born just as the Internet took everyone onto the information highway and as Amazon began its relentless flow of books and everything else into their lives. Born in 1993, this is the first generation to grow up taking the word “online” for granted. They have no memory whatever of George Herbert Walker Bush as president, they came into existence as Bill Clinton came into the presidency. Ferris Bueller could be their overly cautious dad, and Jimmy Carter is an elderly smiling public man who appears occasionally on television doing good works. They only recognize LBJ as meaning LeBron James. Here are some highlights from this year’s Beloit “Mindset List”:

• The only significant labor disputes in their lifetimes have been in major league sports.

• There have always been at least two women on the Supreme Court, and women have always commanded U.S. Navy ships.

• As they’ve grown up on websites and cell phones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration.

• Amazon has never been just a river in South America.

• They’ve always gone to school with Mohammed and Jesus.

• There has never been an official Communist Party in Russia.

• Dial-up is sooooo last century!

• Faux Christmas trees have always outsold real ones.

• Music has always been available via free downloads.

• Russian courts have always had juries.

• No state has ever failed to observe Martin Luther King Day

• They’ve often broken up with their significant others via texting, Facebook, or MySpace

So what? Change has always been around. Yes, but never at the exponential speed that is occuring now. It creates incredible pressure on church leaders to manage the process of change. Leadership would be much easier if everything remained the same. Organizational change is very difficult for folks. Their default mechanism is to resist change. Managing change in a local church is the function of leadership. The question is whether leaders will successfully guide change…or be crushed by it? Leading change in today’s church setting is not for the faint of heart. It calls for our best thinking, lots of prayer, great wisdom, and highly polished skills. It also requires us stay anchored in the premise found in Malachi 3:6 where the Lord reminds us, “I am the Lord, and I do not change!” These days, I find that both very comforting and highly encouraging!